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100% Certified Authentic

Bob's Watches
100% Certified Authentic

At Bob's Watches, your trust is very important to us. We believe that buying a pre-owned Rolex watch online should be simple, honest, and straightforward. To that end, we guarantee that every Rolex watch on our site is 100% authentic, comprised entirely of Rolex parts. Our mission is to be the leading trusted online source for selling and buying authentic pre-owned Rolex watches. We stand behind this authenticity guarantee with a full money back refund on any watch not found to be completely genuine.

BOB’S WATCHES

ROLEX BLOG

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide

August 21, 2020

BY Paul Altieri

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The Rolex Submariner has been a part of the brand’s catalog for well over 60 years, and it is often said that the Submariner is the archetype of the modern dive watch. While the Rolex Submariner was not the absolute first dive watch ever created, it has served as the blueprint for underwater timepieces for over half a century, and virtually all dive watches in existence today were in some way influenced by the design and features of the original Rolex Submariner.

Rolex Submariner Bezel Types & Evolution

Easily among the most famous and recognizable Rolex watches ever created, the Submariner has an overall design that has remained largely unchanged throughout the years. However, the famed Rolex dive watch has undergone plenty of design and mechanical enhancements over the past six decades, including a number of updates and improvements to its all-important rotating timing bezel. Read on to discover all the different types of bezels of the Rolex Submariner.

Rolex Submariner

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide Black Cerachrom Bezel

Key Features:

Case Diameter: 40mm
Materials: Stainless Steel, Yellow Rolesor (steel and gold), 18k Yellow Gold, 18k White Gold
Features: Time + running seconds; date complication (Submariner Date models)
Bezel: 60-minute rotating timing bezel
Crystal: Sapphire Movement: Cal. 3130; Cal. 3135 (Submariner Date)
Water Resistance: 300 meters / 1,000 feet
Bracelet: Oyster bracelet with Oysterlock safety clasp

Click here to learn more about the very first Rolex Submariner.

Shop Rolex Submariner Watches

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide Vintage Black Aluminum Bezel

The Evolution of the Rolex Submariner Bezel

The bezel on a dive watch is designed to allow divers to keep track of elapsed time while they are underwater. To use the Submariner’s bezel, simply rotate the bezel to align the inverted triangle with the minute hand just before a dive (or any other event you want to time). Then, as time elapses, look at where the minute hand is pointing to on the bezel (which is graduated to 60 minutes) and that’ll tell you how many minutes have passed.

Like all Rolex watches, the Submariner has, of course, evolved over the years – particularly in regards to the design of its bezel. Over the course of the Submariner’s history, Rolex has used both bidirectional and unidirectional bezels. Furthermore, Rolex has also used aluminum inserts and Cerachraom (the brand’s proprietary ceramic alloy) inserts for the Submariner’s bezel. Below is a general overview of the various Submariner bezel types used throughout the last 67 years. Note that there is some overlap in years between the aluminum inserts and the ceramic inserts since new Submariner models with Cerachrom bezels were introduced over the course of a four-year period.

1953 – 1979 – Bidirectional rotating bezels with aluminum inserts

1979 – 2012 – Unidirectional rotating bezels with aluminum inserts

2008 – Present – Unidirectional rotating bezels with Cerachrom inserts

Rolex has also tweaked the way that the Submariner bezels have displayed their 60-minute scales. While every Rolex Submariner bezel includes an inverted triangle at 0/60, batons at 5/15/25/35/45/55, and Arabic numerals at 10/20/30/40/50, there have been some modifications in regards to the hash marks that are used to signify individual minutes.

No hash marks – generally found on the earliest examples of vintage Submariners

Hash marks for the first 15 minutes – first appeared around 1957 on some references. Still used today on current Submariners

Hash marks throughout the bezel – Military-issued “MilSub” Submariners only

Some vintage Rolex Submariner references have a red inverted triangle on the bezel to mark the 0/60 minute location. Over the years, the red coloring was prone to fading, and certain vintage Submariner watches that originally had red triangle bezel inserts now appear to have standard black and silver ones. Additionally, due to their short period of production, surviving red triangle bezels are now highly prized by collectors. Below is a list of some of the Rolex Submariner references that can be found with red triangle bezel inserts.

Submariner 6536/1 – Some examples had them and some did not

Submariner 6538 – 

Submariner 5510 – 

Submariner 5508 – Early examples only, eventually replaced with a silver triangle

Submariner 5512 – Early examples only, eventually replaced with a silver triangle

Although the original Submariner models only came with black bezels, when Rolex introduced a solid yellow gold reference in the late 1960s, a blue-colored bezel (and dial) became an option on the brand’s dive watch for the very first time. The Rolex Submariner has benefitted from three different colored bezels through its history. However, these bezel colors are not available across all case materials.

Black Submariner bezels – Stainless steel, yellow gold, two-tone steel/yellow gold cases only

Blue Submariner bezels – White gold, yellow gold, two-tone steel/yellow gold cases only

Green Submariner bezels – Stainless steel cases only

Rolex Submariner models that offer more than one bezel color option will typically have letters at the end of the reference numbers to denote the color of the bezel. These letters are abbreviations of French words, which translate to the following:

LN = Lunette Noir = Black Bezel

LB = Lunette Bleu – Blue Bezel

LVLunette Verte – Green Bezel

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide Blue Aluminum Bezel

Rolex Submariner Bidirectional Bezels With Aluminum Inserts

When Rolex debuted the Submariner in 1953, the stainless steel dive watch included a rotating bezel marked to 60 minutes to allow divers to track immersion times. The steel bezel turned both ways for simple timing and adjustment, the edge of the bezel was knurled for easy gripping underwater, and the insert was fashioned from anodized black aluminum.

The printed 60-minute scale on the earlier versions included markings for every 5 minutes, alternating between batons and Arabic numerals. By the late 1950s, Rolex started to include hash marks for the first 15 minutes on the bezel to facilitate a more precise reading, followed by 5-minute markings for the rest of it.

Around 1969, Rolex introduced the first yellow gold Submariner, the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 1680/8. Accordingly, the knurled rotating bezel ring was fashioned from 18k yellow gold. Additionally, the Rolex Submariner ref. 1680/8 now offered the choice of a black or blue aluminum bezel insert.

Submariner References With Bidirectional Aluminum Bezels

Reference Approximate Production Dates Case Material Bezel Hash Marks
Submariner 6204 1953 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum None
Submariner 6205 1954 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum None
Submariner 6200 1955 – 1956 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum None
Submariner 6538 1956 – 1959 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum None or First 15-Minute
Submariner 6536/1 1956 – 1958 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum None or First 15-Minute
Submariner 5510 1958 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum First 15-Minute
Submariner 5508 1958 – 1962 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum First 15-Minute
Submariner 5512 1959 – 1980 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum First 15-Minute
Submariner 5513 1962 – 1989 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum First 15-Minute
Submariner 5513 Milsub 1972 – 1976 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum All the way around
Submariner 5514 COMEX 1972 – 1978 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum First 15-Minute
Submariner Date 1680 1969 – 1979 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum First 15-Minute
Submariner Date 1680/8 1969 – 1979 18k Yellow Gold Black or Blue Aluminum First 15-Minute

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide Green Aluminum Bezel Kermit

Rolex Submariner Unidirectional Bezels With Aluminum Inserts

While bidirectional rotating bezels may be easier for wearers to quickly turn to the appropriate spot, in terms of their function as a dive bezel, it’s not the best option. If the bezel gets accidentally knocked, this could cause divers to miscalculate how long they have been underwater. Therefore, a unidirectional bezel is more prudent because any accidental knocks to the bezel can only result in overestimating immersion time — it’s better to take an unnecessary safety stop on your way to the surface, rather than being under the impression that you do not need to take one and suffering from decompression sickness as a result.

Rolex began equipping the Submariner with unidirectional bezels starting with the Submariner Date ref. 16800, which was first introduced around 1979. With that in mind, the classic, no-date Submariner model did not receive a unidirectional bezel until 1990 with the introduction of the Rolex Submariner ref. 14060.

Like the previous generation, the new unidirectional bezels included anodized aluminum bezel inserts. In 1983, Rolex introduced the first two-tone Submariner model in the form of the Submariner Date ref. 16803, which sported a yellow gold knurled bezel ring fitted with a black or blue aluminum insert. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Submariner in 2003, Rolex introduced the stainless steel Submariner Date ref. 16610LV with a green bezel insert (also crafted from anodized aluminum).

Submariner References With Unidirectional Aluminum Bezels

Reference Approximate Production Dates Case Material Bezel
Submariner Date 16800 1979 – 1988 Stainless Steel Black Aluminum
Submariner Date 16808 1979 – 1988 18k Yellow Gold Black or Blue Aluminum
Submariner Date 16803 1983 – 1988 Two-Tone Stainless Steel and Yellow Gold Black or Blue Aluminum
Submariner Date 168000 1987 – 1988 904L Stainless Steel Black Aluminum
Submariner Date 16610 1988 – 2010 904L Stainless Steel Black or Green Aluminum
Submariner Date 16618 1988 – 2008 18k Yellow Gold Black or Blue Aluminum
Submariner Date 16613 1988 – 2009 Two-Tone Stainless Steel and Yellow Gold Black or Blue Aluminum
Submariner 14060 1990 – 1998 904L Stainless Steel Black Aluminum
Submariner 14060M 1998 – 2012 904L Stainless Steel Black Aluminum

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide Black Ceramic Bezel

Rolex Submariner Unidirectional Bezels With Cerachrom Inserts

In 2008, Rolex introduced the first Submariner models equipped with unidirectional bezels featuring Cerachrom inserts. Cerachrom is Rolex’s proprietary ceramic alloy that is not only highly resistant to scratching but also virtually impervious to fading. The 60-minute graduations are engraved into the bezel and then the ceramic bezel insert is fully coated with either 18k yellow gold (for yellow gold and two-tone models) or 950 platinum (for white gold or steel models). The gold/platinum is then polished away from the ceramic surface until only the recessed numerals and markings are left with the precious metal filling.

By 2012, Rolex had rolled out the new Cerachrom bezels across all Submariner models, replacing the previous generation of aluminum bezel inserts entirely. Additionally, color options for Rolex’s new ceramic bezels include black, blue, and green, and all of these are current-production Rolex Submariner models.

Submariner References With Unidirectional Cerachrom Bezels

Reference Introduction Year Case Material Bezel
Submariner Date 116619 2008 18k White Gold Blue Cerachrom
Submariner Date 116618 2008 18k Yellow Gold Black or Blue Cerachrom
Submariner Date 116613 2009 Two-Tone Stainless Steel and Yellow Gold Black or Blue Cerachrom
Submariner Date 116610 2010 904L Stainless Steel aka Oystersteel Black or Green Cerachrom
Submariner 114060 2012 904L Stainless Steel aka Oystersteel Black Cerachrom

Rolex Submariner Gem-Set Bezels

Although the rotating bezel serves to measure elapsed time while diving, this has not stopped Rolex from making a few ultra-lavish Submariner watches with precious gem-set bezels that forsakes the original tool watch nature of the model. First, there’s the white gold Submariner 116649 EMBR (presented in 2010) featuring a bezel set with 36 emeralds and 12 diamonds. Then in 2018, Rolex introduced the white gold Submariner 116659 SABR with a bezel set with nine light blue sapphires (to mimic the first 15-minute markings), 27 dark blue sapphires, and 12 diamonds (to mimic the 5-minute markings found on standard Rolex Submariner bezel inserts).

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide Blue Cerachrom Bezel Smurf

Rolex Submariner Bezel Nicknames

Although the bezel of the Rolex Submariner has been black in color for most of the watch’s existence, the various colored options have picked up informal nicknames among members of the collecting community. The bezel of the Rolex Submariner is such a distinctive part of the watch’s overall look that many of them have paved the way for now-ubiquitous Submariner nicknames.

“Kermit” – Submariner ref. 16610LV with a green aluminum bezel

“Hulk” – Submariner ref. 116610LV with a green Cerachrom bezel

“Smurf” – Submariner ref. 116610LB with a blue Cerachrom bezel

“Bluesy” – Submariner ref. 16803 and 16613 with a blue aluminum bezel or 116613LB with a blue Cerachrom bezel

“Ghost” – Any vintage Submariner with highly faded aluminum bezels

From bidirectional aluminum bezels to unidirectional aluminum bezels to today’s high-tech Cerachrom bezel, the Rolex Submariner bezel has evolved significantly and steadily over the years. However, what has remained the same is the importance of the bezel – both to the overall look and functionality of the iconic Rolex Submariner.

Rolex Submariner Bezels Ultimate Guide Green Cerachrom Bezel Hulk

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